Mr Copeland stated that he submitted a Freedom of Information request to the PSNI for the cost of the policing operations at the East Belfast Alliance Office and the home of Naomi Long MP, to compare with the reported £50,000 daily cost of the Twaddell protests. The PSNI replied that they do not hold this information.
Chris Lyttle MLA said: “It is deplorable to compare the response to a criminal threat on an individual’s life with the cost of policing unlawful protests.
“Let’s not forget the 40,000 bogus leaflets delivered by the UUP and DUP that inflamed tensions, protests and riots that had a devastating impact on our economy, and saw many police officers seriously injured. Mr Copeland was present at one of the protests at the East Belfast Alliance office, at the height of the tensions that required significant policing measures to be put in place.
“The PSNI are morally and legally bound to respond to serious threats to life and property without fear or favour and it is of serious concern that any elected representative would question the cost of this obligation. Before engaging in this petty and vindictive behaviour, Michael Copeland should have taken time to reflect on the cost to PSNI officers doing their job in these circumstances, not least those who almost lost their lives when a petrol bomb was thrown into their car while they were outside the East Belfast Alliance Office in December.
“It would also be helpful for him to reflect on how the abject failure of Unionist politicians to demonstrate any real leadership or their unequivocal support for the rule of law has contributed to a context in which scarce resources need to be redirected to police protests rather than tackle crime in our community.
“These comments will be seen by the public for what they are – politically motivated, tasteless, and beneath contempt.”